Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Carl Schmitt
The pseudoelevation of problems specific to politics (that is, problems specific to the organization of relations of production and their political mediation) to problems of "ontology", "ethics", and "philosophy" is in fact a drastic measure against radical political thought, a measure of demoting the revolutionary significance such problems might otherwise obtain. The investment of politics with a false theoretical dignity (in the form of endless philosophical pomp) is in fact a thoroughly counter-revolutionary measure, invented in the twentieth century by Nazi ideologue Carl Schmitt and propagated by a host of supposedly "leftist" acolytes of the idea of the "primacy" and the "autonomy" of "the political", however hypostatized (ethically, ontologically, pseudo-anthropologically, "structurally", etc): Hannah Arendt, Cornelius Castoriades, Claude Lefort and Ernesto Laclau, to name but a few. That most of these neo-Aristotelian propagators of the "dignity of the political" were expressly anti-communist is anything but an accident; it was precisely such "dignity" that was explosively refuted by Marx's demonstration of the impotence of a merely "political" emancipation when the question is that of exploitation and inequality within so-called "civil society" -- the sphere where "Man" is not a "political" being but one defined by painful need and the competition for resources. Nor is it accidental that Marx demolished centuries of Platonic and Aristotelian thinking in a youthful essay ostensibly written "On the Jewish Question": the "Jew" was his own time's antisemitic synonym for what, bound as it is to the despised and enslaved world of "matter", cannot ascend to the Olympian realm of the "dignity of the political." After him, the insistence on ignoring his rigorous de-construction of bourgeois political self-heroicization could not but take the form of an anti-Semitism that could for some time forego explicit reference to the "dirty Jew" by haughtily castigating the "external determination of the political" via "concerns that do not belong to it" (cf Schmitt, The Concept of the Political); after Schmitt, the reaction against every and all effort to demystify the philosophizing mystique around "the political" could continue only by proclaiming its unwillingness to see through the genocidally fascist implications of a position for which only those willing to "risk their being" are entitled with the right to comprehend the decidedly Occidental arcana of bourgeois "political freedom" (cf Arendt's regression to Aristotelian hypostatizations of slave-owning "freedom" and "autonomy" against Marx's "economism" in The Human Condition).

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